Hampstead heroes are holding their own in Premier Division title race

Charlie Cooke bats for Hampstead

Charlie Cooke bats for Hampstead - Credit: Max Flego

Hampstead strengthened their grasp on second spot and maintained the pressure on Premier Division leaders Ealing after beating third-placed Teddington in the Middlesex County Cricket League.

Ben Scott was in inspired form with the bat once again, striking an unbeaten 79, while Mubasher Hassan contributed a half century as the hosts declared on 240-5 – and Graham Clark then took 4-47 as Teddington were skittled for 183.

That victory - Hampstead’s fifth from their last six games - took them 24 points clear of Teddington, and they remain just two points behind Ealing in the title race.

“This was another quality performance from us,” said the chairman of Hampstead’s playing committee, Nick Brown. “Perhaps what is most satisfying is that we are getting major contributions from different people almost every week.

“Obviously we can’t understate Ben Scott’s contribution - he has top scored again and without him it would have been different - but this week we got match defining contributions from Mubasher Hassan, Charlie Cooke and Graham Clark.”

Hampstead were asked to bat at their Lymington Road ground, and they reached 73-1, having lost skipper Steve Clark (29).

However, three wickets then fell in quick succession as Graham Clark (27) was followed by James Cameron (0) and Liam Hughes (0), leaving the home side 79-4.

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However, Scott and Hassan steadied the ship, adding 93 for the fifth wicket, when Hassan (57) departed. He was replaced by Cooke, who took advantage of a couple of early let-offs to strike an unbeaten 36 at a run a ball before Steve Clark declared at 240-5 after 60 overs.

“Mubasher has struggled for runs this season but our faith paid off with his knock of 57,” said Brown. “His partnership with Ben turned the game around because at 79-4, against a good bowling team, we were in trouble.

“It was a bold declaration and, speaking to the Teddington chairman, they expected to chase it down - but Clarky has confidence in our bowling and whether it was bold or otherwise, it proved to be correct.”

Hampstead needed a good start after the break and they got it. Max Page (4) was run out early on and Steve Clark (2-27) dismissed his replacement Sam Agarwal (6), while Zak Khan (1-32) removed James Keightley (21), leaving the visitors 32-3.

Ben Duncan (3) was also run out and, although Joe Austin (41) and Will Rist (25) took Teddington to the 100 mark, they were both dismissed in quick succession by Graham Clark and Liam Hughes (1-64) without adding to that score.

Leg spinner Graham Clark went on to remove Nicholas Ellsmore (26) and Duncan Wood (6), who were both caught by Hughes - and Steve Clark accounted for Charles Hopkins (8) before Graham Clark dismissed last man Stefan Bullon (25) to wrap up a 57-run victory with the penultimate ball of the 58th over.

“Graham delivered a superb spell of leg spin, bowling unchanged for 20 overs to deliver the win,” said Brown. “He said after the game that it was the longest bowl of his life, but if he keeps up this sort of form he will get a lot more opportunities - and as the pitches get drier and more worn, I think he will win us more games.

“We are going very well and it’s great to have won our last two games without Ragheb Aga, who is in Scotland representing Kenya. When he comes back we will be stronger and in great shape for the second half of the season.”